Certainly one of the most interesting recent stories for box-office watchers has been the success of the Spanish-language film "Instructions Not Included." After opening to a surprising $10.4 million on 347 screens last weekend, this weekend the film expanded to 717 screens to bring in just over $8 million for a new total of $20.3 million.
"Instructions Not Included" is a comedy of a playboy who unexpectedly becomes a single father, starring, directed and co-written by Eugenio Derbez. Paul Presburger, CEO of Pantelion Films, called Derbez "one of the biggest stars you've never heard of" for his popularity within the Latino community and now new emergence for broader audiences. Derbez appeared just this past Friday night on the television program "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon."
Pantelion was formed three years ago as a joint venture between Lionsgate and Latin media giant Televisa to bring Spanish- and English-language films to Latino moviegoers in the U.S.
"From a company perspective, we knew that eventually something would click with our target audience," said Presburger. Though as of Sunday morning it had not been finalized whether the film would expand again next weekend, Presburger felt there was still plenty of potential beyond Spanish-speaking audiences for the film, even if it would mean having "to convince people not to be afraid of subtitles."
Pantelion will be releasing "Pulling Strings," a film split 50-50 between English and Spanish, in October.
Also on the specialty front, the documentary "Salinger," which chronicles the life of the famously reclusive author J.D. Salinger, opened this weekend on four screens and brought in a total just under $91,000 for a strong per-screen average of almost $23,000. The Weinstein Co.'s head of theatrical distribution Erik Lomis noted that interest in the movie was not only pushing sales of the related book by David Shields and Salerno, but that Salinger's iconic "The Catcher in the Rye" has also jumped back to near the top of the Amazon.com sales charts.
The film will be expanding over the next few weeks and it remains to be seen whether its mostly negative reviews will cool audience interest. (The film will also air on PBS' "American Masters" next year.) While in one of the film's most positive reviews The Times' Kenneth Turan called it an "energetic, informative" documentary, in a blistering takedown of the film, New York Times critic A.O. Scott declared the film "not just leering and gossipy, but aggressively anti-literary."
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